Almost

As this is a project that started and stopped and has now started once again, I have been asked more then once, “When are you going to be finished?” The easy answer for all software projects is “never” but in this case I’ve always been driven by a strong desire to build and launch a working system, rather than a “minimally viable product” that does just enough to get people to sign up.

When my future customers ask, I’ve always described the situation as similar to cooking a dish for a customer. Do you serve it before it’s ready, or serve it raw?

While I’ve been away I’ve been moving some things around to cover the features and general ideas that have developed through a few of the previous articles here. Last night I created a few more of the relevant social media accounts and if possible there just might be some related articles written here under each specific moniker. So first, the scoop:

The Four Sites

When I conceived of FoodTruckYP back in 2011 or so, I thought it would make sense to have a shortened url for convenient linking from Twitter and elsewhere. I registered ftyp.co a short time later and for the dormant time that concept remained… the main site for food trucks and the shortened url site for sharing to social media. The use of UUID permalinks makes urls on the main site a bit longer but resilient to changes, the shortened url seemed like a good idea for various reasons.

Now that we’re really cooking with gas, my discussions with various people have validated my concept (as much as can occur prior to launch and real use) and it makes a lot of sense at this point to enable the same tools for mobile vendors in general. Any Maker Faire, farmers’ market, festival, First Friday, etc has a similar challenge when it comes to coordination of the moving parts, some of those being the moving vendors. The underlying system has received some tweaks to account for a broader scope, but then as anyone attempts to locate mobile vendors of various types, it becomes immediately obvious that there is more to it than just Food Trucks.

So FaireTruckYP, FaireTentYP, and FoodTentYP were added to the mix. Still not covering all of the bases, but to keep it simple, “Faire” covers any sort of marketplace gathering, yes inspired by Maker Faire to which I’ve been several times in several places, but general aimed at any event or gathering, food or otherwise. There are several fashion boutique trucks out there, and there is no reason to lump them in with Food Trucks. Similarly, the Tent variants are aimed at what we could call “Moveable Vendors.” If trucks, trailers, carts, bikes, and boats are all mobile, then a tent, booth, stand, or stall is only slightly less so, the difference being the setup. Not a large difference, but to the casual customer or organizer searching to fill a specific need, this may come in handy. As well, we’re not only about Food Trucks, though that is certainly the starting point for this project.

FTYP is now the backend…

With 4 parallel websites, it makes sense to have one core in which to offer the logistics tools and source data for the four sites and external services. This makes the architecture a bit easier, with the central site hosting the tools interface without having to mix in public content, served from the other four. A clean separation of functionality. The logo icon should imply that ftyp.co is the connector, of the four and more.

Loyalty

I mentioned this previously, but I’ve been focusing more on social media for marketing brands versus events and how that couples to engagement and sales… how does this really fit together? Later, when I cover the back end data model, this will become much more obvious, but at the end of the day if this platform can provide an improving customer engagement scheme to connect with the people who want to patronize their favorite vendors as well as discover their additional favorites they have yet to meet, then an opt-in loyalty program that couples to schedule and the mobile vending context (recurring events at the same and different places by organizers) makes a lot of sense to complete the picture I’m drawing here.

For example, if world famous event organizer Off the Grid in California were to create a loyalty program here, then each mobile vendor (trucks, tents, etc, I believe OtG mixes it up here and there, especially at Fort Mason) would participate in the program by scanning each customer’s loyalty information for patronage. And each vendor could have their own loyalty program(s) as well.

What does this get you, FTYP customer? Your customer might visit your truck or tent or bike or booth here or there, and you can connect with them everywhere. And in our OtG event example, if you are participating in an OtG event, then your customer can also take part in the OtG program at the same time. Maybe OtG wants to over something like an OtG t-shirt or hat, or some secret mailing list, or whatever.

All of this integrates with the schedule model, since now interested customers participating in the loyalty program can connect the dots. Who is interested in each scheduled location? Who visits? Who wants to hear more about where you are in the future? It’s all integrated together.

And, included in the platform price, which is pretty low already…

So Hang On!

The first launch is fast approaching, at long last. The plan has always been a monthly subscription service, and the target early-adopter price in the US has always been $10 per month. That includes everything, without any commissions or fees on events or other business. Hopefully this will have been worth the wait…